Short Film: The Schlieren Test
Red Dot Design Museum is built on the foundation of presenting and communicating good design in everyday products. The Schlieren Test, a short film that exemplifies the methods used by citizen scientists to test the efficacy of face masks in this pandemic. The pandemic has turned the layperson into a citizen scientist. Confined in their homes and with doubts cast on the mandatory mask-wearing practice, many learned to test the efficacy of life-saving PPEs—from surgical masks to home-made cotton masks—through basic experiments in their "home laboratory".
These product evaluation methods range from the simple flame test—where one attempts to extinguish a candle flame by blowing through one's mask—to the Schlieren imaging technique that requires a parabolic telescope mirror, a razor blade, a pinhole light source and a camera. Though rudimentary in their setup, these experiments visualise the airflow of our breath, coughs, sneezes and speech through face masks. By making the invisible tangible, these tests serve as a pertinent reminder of the importance of mask-wearing in a public health crisis.